Eleven private gardens – eight in the city, two in Pouce Coupe and just south of the village – were opened up for the public to take self-guided tours through. Organizers were fortunate to get a break in an otherwise rainy weekend, allowing for a great day for a walk though the gardens.
Tom and Barbara Horn's garden at 1609 95 Avenue was certainly a sight to behold. There were beautiful flowers in bloom everywhere the eye could see, and many interesting features such as a fish pond, raised beds filled with vegetables, and even a small cabin. Tom said it is a far cry from how their yard used to look when they bought their house 12 years ago.
"This was all weeds and bush," he said. "The only thing that was here was that shed, which used to be a greenhouse."
Through years of hard work, he said they now have their garden to where it doesn't require too much work other than when it's subject to inclement weather. He said the recent heavy rainfalls have slowed a few things down, but has made other things made "quite luscious."
Horn said tending to their garden and their greenhouses is an enjoyable hobby for them both, and makes for a nice retreat without having to leave home.
"We like eating the vegetables and picking the flowers, seeing the birds and everything."
"I dont have to go camping!" he added.
A new addition to the tour this year was the home of Tracy Christenson at 1529 102 Avenue. Christenson said she and her family moved into their home two years ago, and having mature gardens was definitely a big attraction for her.
"Just to be able to sit in your yard and have beautiful-smelling flowers around you, and just the whole atmosphere, is nice," she said.
It has certainly been a labour of love to maintain those gardens, as she said she has spent lots of late nights after work weeding them.
Christenson said the tour is a great way for her to show off the fruits of that labour.
"This way somebody else can enjoy all my hard work other than just me," she said, adding its a great way to share knowledge, and even plants, with other gardeners.
The "tea" part of the garden tour took place at the Senior Citizens Hall on McKellar Avenue, where local volunteers were working hard in the kitchen to serve up snacks and refreshments to patrons for a small fee. There were also vendors outside selling all kinds of potted plants and garden features.
The horticultural society relies on the tea and tour as its biggest fundraiser for the year. President Barb Carlson said the money raised goes largely towards awarding cash prizes for the horticultural division at the annual Fall Fair in August. She added it also allows them to donate to the municipal library to purchase gardening books, magazines and movies for the benefit of gardeners in the community.
She said the tea and tour has been going for about 20 years now and it is different every year. For example, she said she noticed in recent years there is more awareness around conserving water and using environmentally-friendly practices such as mulching and composting.
Besides sharing a common interest, Carlson said the horticultural society is a very warm and friendly group to belong to. She said they are always looking for new members, and encouraged anyone who might be interested to contact her at 782-8439.